Marvel Comics is more than a comic book company, it’s a worldwide phenomenon. The company has created and promoted superheroes like Captain America, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the X-Men, and of course Spider-Man. Its characters are instantly recognizable, mostly from its massive line of comic based films.
The Disney Company bought Marvel Entertainment in 2009. That buyout gave Disney control over the company. That buyout also changed the game for Marvel, giving it a unified vision and a broader reach than it had ever had before. Marvel has since become a pillar brand for Disney.
Lee, Kirby, and Ditko
Marvel has its origin in Timely Comics, which was started by Martin Goodman in 1939 in New York. In 1951, it changed its name to Atlas Comics. The era of Marvel as we know it didn’t begin until 1961. That’s when Marvel launched a title that would stick with it until this day, the Fantastic Four.
This was the age of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and Jack Kirby. These men shaped the primary brand of Marvel, creating the characters who would define the company’s message and its style. What set Marvel apart from all of its rivals, but most especially DC Comics, is that Marvel’s most popular comics were inspired by social issues and real world events. Comics like the X-Men were reflections of cultural realities.
Stan Lee would go on to be the face of Marvel, a cultural icon. His cameos in Marvel films became constant. Lee’s death in 2018 was a global moment of mourning, as he himself had become as much of an icon as his characters.
Marvel’s stories are primarily set in the real world. This means that cities such as London, San Francisco, and especially New York City featured in the pages of Marvel.
The characters in the Marvel Universe are wide-ranging, but here are a few of the biggest heroes in Marvel.
- Captain America
- Black Panther
- The Incredible Hulk
- The Punisher
- Captain Marvel
Superhero teams in the Marvel Universe are a major part of its business model. These include the following major teams:
- The Guardians of the Galaxy
- The Avengers
- The X-Men
- The Fantastic Four
Villains play a big role in Marvel too, just as with all comic books. Marvel has given birth to some of the most incredible villains ever created.
- Red Skull
- Green Goblin
- Doctor Doom
Beyond the Page
Marvel has had a great deal of success with its characters off the page, and this is the aspect of Marvel that has pushed it to worldwide recognition.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has made more than twenty billion dollars since 2015. It includes more than two dozen films that are organized in phases and build upon one another. It stars actors Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Holland, and many more. The franchise has spawned theme parks, merchandise, Academy Awards, and television spin offs.
What makes Marvel remarkable isn’t that it’s a series of superheroes doing phenomenal things, it’s that Marvel’s characters resonate with the humanity in its fans.